Talks between Johnson and Tory Brexit rebels off

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Crunch Brexit talks between British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and senior Tory rebels have been cancelled.

As Mr Johnson faced a torrid week of expected Commons clashes over his EU withdrawal stance, a planned meeting on Monday with ex-justice secretary David Gauke and other Conservative critics was called off.

It then emerged that a proposed one-on-one meeting between the PM and former chancellor Philip Hammond would also not take place.

Former chancellor Philip Hammond

The developments came after Cabinet heavyweight Michael Gove refused to say if the Government would abide by legislation blocking a no-deal Brexit if it is forced through by Tory rebels and the opposition this week.

Pressed repeatedly on whether the Government would abide by a successful bid by Commons opponents to pass legislation preventing a no-deal withdrawal on October 31, Mr Gove told BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show: “Let’s see what the legislation says.

“You’re asking me about a pig in a poke.

“And I will wait to see what legislation the opposition may try to bring forward.”

Mr Gove added: “For me, the most important thing is to bear in mind actually, we already have legislation in place which an overwhelming majority of MPs voted for.

“We already have an EU Withdrawal Act, we already have the notice on Article 50, the process by which we leave the EU.”

Mr Johnson held a strategy meeting with party whips and senior aides on Sunday in preparation for a tough week ahead.

Opponents of no deal look set to try to seize control of the parliamentary agenda to push through legislation delaying Brexit beyond October 31.

I think that there are a number of economic factors in play – some prices may go up, other prices will come down

Shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer, who said he favoured legislation to prevent a no-deal scenario, branded Mr Gove’s stance “breathtaking”.

He tweeted: “For ministers not to confirm that this Government will accept and comply with legislation lawfully passed is breathtaking.

“The Prime Minister must make a statement on this straightaway.

“No Government is above the law.”

Tory MP Guto Bebb said Mr Gove’s comments were “a disgrace to our democracy”.

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